6 things to consider before asking for a pay rise


If you're a woman, today marks the day that you'll work for free until the end of the year. Although there are many factors at play, there is one thing can you can do to ensure your salary reflects your true value. Here's our guide to negotiating your salary.

Women are statistically less likely to ask for a pay rise than their male counterparts. In fact, fewer than one fifth of everywomanNetwork members (17%) approach negotiations with an “I can do it!” attitude. 

The largest proportion (35%) feel so nervous that they avoid negotiation altogether; 30% hesitatingly take a stab at asking for more, but feel less than optimistic about their chances; and 17% are comfortable negotiating on behalf of another (an employee, for example), but simply cannot do it for themselves.

But where the gender pay gap is concerned, things are moving in the right direction. “Courageous women and enlightened men are paving the pay for equal pay,” says everywoman Associate Pippa Isbell in the webinar Negotiating Your Salary. “The solution is to negotiate your worth – let’s keep doing it and normalise this behaviour in society so that it’s as expected of women [as it as of men].”

While Pippa urges you to think long and hard about what you can do to help enable equal pay – both in your own situation and in the wider world – like every matter related to your career, solid preparation is the key to success. So before you demand a salary hoik in that next 1-2-1 with your boss, take a look at Pippa’s six-step checklist for laying the groundwork for a successful negotiation.


1. Know your value, know the market

The total remuneration package you want to aim for is the sum of your value and the market rate.

First, establish the value you afford your organisation by conducting a thorough analysis of your strengths and weaknesses (be honest about the latter and see them as opportunities to develop). Think about changes that may be afoot in your organisation (threats) and how you might be able to elevate your position (opportunities). Also consider any rules or policies that govern salary increases in your organisation (is finance only open to negotiation during certain periods of the year, for example).

Second, conduct research into the market rate for your position and level of seniority, with relevance to your industry. Confidentially speak to recruiters and trusted peers within your network, dig out any relevant salary surveys that have been conducted, and look at job advertisements for similar roles. Take note of advertised salaries, but also of overall packages; there may be other aspects – increased flexibility, holiday allowance, pension schemes, health benefits and so on – that come into play when you begin your negotiations.

This information and data forms the basis of a compelling business case for your request. Be sure to stick to this, resist the urge to bring in personal factors – needing more money in order to pay for higher rent, for example.


2. Determine your bottom line

Before you ask for a salary rise, understand what it is that you really want. What must be achieved in order for you to be satisfied, and what will you absolutely not accept? Again it’s important to think outside salary – if your expectations cannot be met, are there other factors that can be brought into play? While it’s important to be clear about your expectations, keep an open mind and show you are flexible; if an alternative offer is made – for example, additional holiday allowance in place of a percentage of your salary raise, or undertaking a career-boosting training course at your organisation’s expense with a view to reviewing your request within an agreed period of time – remain open to considering whether this is an agreeable outcome.


 Document your achievements. Keep a journal of successes. It cheers you up enormously to read after a bad day, and you’ll be able to use the content when it comes to negotiating your salary or at your annual performance review.

Pippa Isbell, everywoman author


3. Know who’s sitting across the table from you

You might be negotiating a salary increase with your immediate line manager, a more senior figure in the organisation, or a remote person from your HR team. Whatever the situation, you need to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Consider what pressures they might be under, what information and data they themselves will bring to the table, what they know about you and your worth, what rules they might be adhering to, and what standpoint they’ll be approaching your request from. If you’re dealing with a seasoned negotiator they’re going to have done the same type of research as you have. What might throw you off course?


4. Write your script and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!

You know your value, what you’re asking for, where you’ll compromise and where you won’t. It’s crucial that you turn all that preparation into a strong, compelling opening statement and follow up justifications. Pippa suggests writing it out over and over again until it’s clear in your mind, then saying it out loud until it sticks and sounds really natural. Role-play, if it helps, with your partner, a trusted peer or mentor.


5. Make a mental movie of the meeting

Think through even the most basic elements of the encounter – visualise the layout of the room, where you will sit, what you will wear, how you will hold yourself as you enter the space and how you will greet the ‘other side’. Replay it over and over in your mind, with you becoming more and more confident in your position with each run. “If you have clear ideas about what’s happening and what you’re likely to encounter, it’s much easier to come from solid ground,” says Pippa Isbell.


Companies are starting to focus on the need for change; best practice is being shared; now women need to play their part – learn to negotiate. Now is the time to ensure your salary reflects your true value to your organisation. Don’t settle for second best.

Pippa Isbell, everywoman author, Negotiating Your Salary


6. Power pose to dial up your testosterone!

In her seminal TED talk on body language, social psychologist Amy Cuddy claims that standing in a Wonder Woman-esque pose for just a few minutes actually reduces stress hormone cortisol and increases testosterone, the hormone linked to power and assertion. Find yourself a private spot – in the toilet cubicle if you have to – stand feet apart, hands on hips and chin lifted. Hold the position for a few minutes while you run one last time through your positive visualisation of the meeting you’re about to have. 

Discover more great tips in the everywoman workbook Negotiating Your Salary or listen back to our follow up webinar for more great tips on effective communication with the other side.